Straight Angle™: A Post for me!!
Monday, May 09, 2005
What is the difference between the ancient Indian architecture (spanning from whatever date you wish but ending at the arrival of the British) and the Imperial India's architecture?...Though I hadn’t personally or extensively seen or researched about these two, from whatever I have seen and grasped, I could see a very glaring difference…..the expression of brute force, the sheer magnificence, and the authority in the Imperial structures seldom miss our eyes. It was far more greater than it had been in the periods preceding it. Take some of the structures that the Raj built- like the Lutyen’s Delhi or the Victoria Terminus (now Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus). Apart from being an architectural marvel, they convey something more. There isn’t a subtle sense of mildness in them. They all seem to be overtly masculine, arrogant, intimidating (to some extent) and mighty. Take some of the Pre-Raj structures of India like the Thirumalai Naicker Mahal. True…they are big, they are magnificent….but they are subtle in their authority…never is their aggression naked as Raj’s. They aren’t over in their display of might as the Raj’s structures…May be because, the Raj had the necessity of displaying its authority, to morally subjugate people, to declare its supremacy and superiority to the natives..and a self-assumed justification of its role as the savior. But there is a caveat here…almost all the Temples of Gods were bigger and are aggressive in their architecture. They were always majestic, with an air of arrogance- with high rise outer walls, well fortified (Thanjavur Temple-even to the extent of an “Agazhi”)…sculptures that display power, might, force and have an aura of invincibility around them. But the seat of Governance had been sobre , gentle and mild in their authority.
The forts like Gingee differ vastly from that of St.George or the other forts of the Raj era. Does this means that, the rulers before the Raj era were more benevolent and had the popular mandate to rule, rather than the rule by force which the British resorted to? But then, there are numerous instances that prove otherwise….to an equally arrogant rule by the natives…So, why is this expression in buildings?
"Inscription that Lutyen ordered to be raised above the great recessed ivan gateway of the secretariats:
Liberty will not be descended to a people.
A people must raise themselves to Liberty;
It is a blessing which must be earned
Before it can be enjoyed. "
- Reproduced from "City of Djinns"- William Dalrymple, Pg-83
Though the author might not agree, or even despise, there could be an unique charm in the Victoriam Indo-Sacarenic architecture. Infact, I think there would be an unique proposition in any of the architectural eras. I couldn't comment on the Indo-Sacarenic architecture further, coz I know nothing of it.
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